by Sean Grogan
The Five Nights at Freddy’s movie, produced by Blumhouse was an obvious case of a passion project turned to a grubby cash grab. To most people who will watch the movie, this movie is just another horror movie from Blumhouse. But to avid enjoyers of the franchise, this was just a terrible interpretation of the games.
Plotline and Comments
We start off the movie with an unnamed security guard in distress, he tries to unscrew the vent door to escape his cramped unsanitary office. The camera shifts to the office door, barricaded with miscellaneous objects, while something on the outside bangs on the door to break it open. This entire first scene portrays this as a realistic terrifying movie. With a gloomy, dark ambiance. Now although you can argue that FNAF is not always in this type of ambience, the truth is that this is what a real FNAF movie should be like. That is why I had such high hopes watching this opening scene, thinking it would be like this the entire film. But then, the movie cuts to our protagonist Mike Schmidt, played by Josh Hutcherson, waking up at 6:00 am in his cramped, messy bedroom. After getting dressed he walks through the hall of his home to wake up his little sister, Abby. who he takes care of. Immediately we see Abby’s trait of stubbornness and antisocial behavior. Her room is filled with crayon drawings of her and her “imaginary” friends.
Something I will give the movie credit for is this sibling relationship and how it grows throughout the movie. Although it does not exist anywhere else in the franchise, I loved their dynamic. It is one of the reasons that I enjoyed watching the movie, even with its many flaws. We then see a flashback of Mike working as a Mall security guard on the break with his coworker. This is where one of the main plot points of the movie gets introduced. Mike is talking to his coworker about a book called “Dream Theory”, Mike explains the idea that every memory you have ever experienced is stored in your brain, and when you sleep and relive that memory, you are not viewing it but instead participating in it.
Allowing you to alter how things pan out or even find new information. I think this was a way for the movie to make an interesting, side plot that would connect to the main plot of the movie. But as the movie progressed the idea really just became a scapegoat for random plot inconsistencies that I will get to later. After the conversation, Mike spots a boy standing in the middle of the mall alone. He gets worried when he sees an unknown man grab him violently and pull him towards the exit. After chasing them through the store, He catches the attention of the man, tackles him into the fountain, and starts to beat him to a pulp. We then cut back to Mike, in a career counseling lobby zoning out while waiting for his appointment. We then get to meet another key character in the story, William Afton played by Mathew Lillard, who at that moment goes under the alias of “Steve Raglan”. We do not learn his true identity until later in the film, but it is fairly obvious for the audience to realize that “Steve Raglan” would play a bigger role in the film. I feel that if they were going to go for a more shocking surprise reveal, they could have executed it much better. Steve talks to Mike about each of his very short-lived occupations, and starts to ask him why he even tries to get a job in the first place.
Mike starts to get up to leave when Steve brings up the open spot for a security guard at Freddy’s. Mike originally declines the offer because he says he cannot do nights, but he still takes Steve’s business card just in case. The rest of the following scenes are the movie’s terrible try at a subplot. We see Mike get into an argument with his Aunt Jan at Abby’s school, over the custody of Abby. After the argument, he then talks to the counselor alone. She starts to bring up getting a job to look good for the court if things keep escalating. In my opinion, the dialogue for the movie up to the school scene was on point and good. But it would continue to get even more and more corny and unbearable as the movie progressed. We then meet Abby’s babysitter Max, who is a very empathetic character in the film. She understands and helps out Mike a bunch with Abby and things around the house. From here Mike walks over to Abby’s room and we see how passionate and enveloped she is with her drawings, to the point she won't even eat dinner. After some bickering with Abby, Mike goes to bed. And we see what causes him to have such impulsive protection towards kids and the continuation of the dream theory. We see Mike as a child, camping with his family. Mike’s mom spills some soda on the table. And asks him to watch his little brother Garret, while she goes to grab some napkins. At that moment. A frisbee falls in front of young Mike; he looks down to pick it up and throws it back to the other campers in the distance. When he looks up, Garett is gone. He watches as a car drives away with his brother looking at him through the back of the car. This is where the dream theory comes into play, Mike forces himself to have the same dream, each night. To hopefully find the face of the man who kidnapped his brother. We then see Mike, awake, calling Steve Raglin. Asking if the night guard job is still available. Steve, with a smirk, assures Mike it still is. Now after all of this leads up to the first night. You would think this is where the horror, even if it wasn’t as terrifying as could be, would start. But one of this movie's biggest problems was finding what genre it wanted to be.
Many other people who have reviewed the movie say it's a rating on a spectrum for how scary the movie would be, although I believe it is a great way to look at horror movies, especially any movie coming from Blumhouse. But this movie did not have that problem. The main issue this movie has is that it barely connects itself as a horror movie at all. Sometimes we are in a serious horror setting like in the intro to the movie, other times we are down to earth and a lot more about a struggling guy and his little sister. In all fairness, it is great to have diversity in the tone of the movie. But when you are making a horror movie, make a horror movie. I don't think this is the fault of the director Emma Tammi, because her other 2 horror works “The Wind” and “Blood Moon” although not greatly recognized as classic style horror cinema, don't have this type of issue. From what I understood reading about the pre-production of the movie. This was going to be an old Blumhouse take on the franchise, Like “Get Out” or the parts of the Halloween franchise they produced. But somewhere in pre-production, the promised R-rated film got dialed down to a PG-13 rating. The only reason I see anyone doing this is that FNAF, although not as big a conglomerate as my generation, still has a following of kids. 5 to 10-year-olds whose parents' sweet sweet money would be missed out on if the film was R-rated. This goes back to what I stated before with the fact that this was an obvious passion project turned cash grab.
On the first night, Mike doesn’t do much in the pizzeria the most important thing is getting to see the stunning set they made for the pizzeria, When you think about the fact this was just an abandoned Home Depot, and they made this incredible set with a budget under 20 million honestly leaves me speechless. The rest of the night is spent watching an old 80’s VHS Employee tape that bugs out halfway through. We then see Mike just sleep on the job and return to that forest once again. but this time, he has visitors. 5 unknown children, each slightly resembling the animatronics of the pizzeria. After the infamous car drives away with Garret, Mike notices the kids and asks them if they know who the man driving is and if they could help them. But they each run away in different directions. Mike chases after them but to no avail. He jumps up and realizes that it is 6 AM. When he gets home he does fairly the same things as the rest of his days. Now I didn’t have a real problem with there being no threat to Mike on the first night, because it gives him a false sense of security. But besides that, I felt like the first night didn’t do its job very well, it kind of introduced the animatronics, but only on the VHS tape that instantly glitched out when they appeared. All we saw was the office and the dark dimly lit corners of the pizzeria, and to be honest I feel the second night did a way better job than the first night.
Before the second night starts we see Aunt Jan reappear at a diner with Max and her brother, This is where the first cameo of the movie appears when a very popular YouTuber Matpat takes their order. I really enjoyed seeing things like this throughout the movie because it really showed that there was love put into the idea, but the execution was tampered with. TO be honest I feel like the sheer amount of fan service they put in this movie was just a little too over the top and really made it seem like this was to cover up its flaws. we then find out that Max was being paid by Aunt Jan to look for anything incriminating against Mike at his house so that they could take Abby. Max tells her there's nothing and Aunt Jan refuses to pay them because there was nothing found. Max then brings up Mike’s new job as a security guard. And her brother gets the idea to sabotage Mike’s job to get him fired. He brings up the idea of breaking in and trashing the place and Aunt Jan agrees. The second night starts about the same, Mike takes his sleeping pills, takes a nap, and returns to his same dream. This time, the children still appear and run away but this time Mike catches the one that resembles Foxy and asks him for his help, when the kid turns around he slashes Mike's arm with a hook, and his eyes turn black, and start leaking either blood or oil. Mike wakes up, seeing a police car parked at the entrance and someone waiting in the rain. He runs over to the door and unlocks it, The officer played by Elizabeth Lail, comments on Mike sleeping on the job, and Mike asks what the reason for the visit is.
She says her name is Vanessa and that she likes to visit Freddy’s on her nightly patrol. She brings Mike’s attention to the fact he is bleeding on his arm, in the same place as the dream. Vanessa says she knows where the first-aid kit is kept in the pizzeria as they both enter. As she enters the pizzeria, she turns on all of the lights that Mike had no idea existed and fully powers the pizzeria. They cut to the office where Vanessa is patching up Mike, and she asks him if he’s met “them” yet. They then walk to the main room of the pizzeria and open the curtains to the main stage. The animatronics play a song and Vanessa starts to open up to Mike about how she would come here all the time when she was a kid. Midway through playing the animatronics malfunction and power down. Instantly, Vannesa’s mood changes, and starts talking to Mike about how night guards never last here. Mike starts to question why and Vannessa tells him about how the place is deemed to be haunted because of the incident that happened in the 80’s. Mike asks her what happened and she goes on to explain that 5 children went missing at Freddy’s and were never found. We then see her leave and Mike goes back to his office. At 6 AM, Mike locks up the pizzeria. Vanessa pulls up in her patrol car and has some small talk with Mike before leaving. We then see Max’s brother in his car parked across the street, casing the outside of the pizzeria for a way in, and spots the delivery opening for the kitchen. We then see Max, her brother, and 2 of their friends enter with bats, crowbars, and other objects through the kitchen entrance.
This was the part that made me the most confused, because for a movie called “Five Nights at Freddy’s” pretty much the closest thing they had to being a horror movie happened during the day. They walk around and start to trash the place. Then in the kitchen one of the other friends is looking around as the fridge starts to rattle, he walks over and opens the door to see an empty fridge, but when he opens the other door he sees Chica’s cupcake sitting in the fridge. He looks away for a moment but whe he It lunges at his face and starts to bite his face violently. He rolls around the kitchen floor screaming. We then cut to another one of the accomplices noticing the screaming, as he sees the cupcake he starts to yell and frantically runs around into the hallway and hides in a storage closet. As he struggles to turn on the light in the closet, we see Bonnie standing right behind him. We then cut to Max’s brother looking down the hall and hearing his friend’s frantic screaming. We then see the window of the storage closet get blurred with blood and a bloody handprint. When Max’s brother sees this, he tries to run away to the back exit. We then see him violently push on the door but to no avail. We hear Foxy run down the hallway the same way he did at the beginning of the movie towards the old night guard. It cuts to Max standing at the kitchen entrance wondering what is taking them so long. She starts to walk through the kitchen towards the main room, which makes no sense because how would she not have seen the either dying or dead person lying there? She sees an unknown child standing next to the stage and starts to follow them behind the stage. When she enters the room she only sees Freddy. She walks up to the stationary animatronic and looks a tad bit too close to its head. A hand reaches out of Freddy’s mouth and pulls her in. We cut to the wall and see her shadow enter the animatronic and get chopped in half by Freddy’s mouth.
Now this was a great part of the movie because it was the only part of the movie that succeeded in being scary. If the rest of the movie was like this then honestly I feel everyone would have enjoyed this movie way more.
As the screen cuts to black, we see Mike relaxing at home in his room. As he walks to the kitchen to see Abby he finds her with the custody papers that Aunt Jan had given him. She asks him if this means that she would live with Aunt Jan and starts to panic and say she hates Aunt Jan. Mike laughs as someone knocks at the door. He opens it and sees Vanessa at the door. She says hello to Abby as Abby leaves the two alone to talk. Vanessa tells Mike someone broke into Freddy’s. She shows him his sleeping pills and says that if he is too wonked out to remember to lock a door he would still be liable. He tells Vanessa that there is more to it than that and they go on a walk. The movie cuts to the two at a tiny lake near Mike’s house and Mike tells her about the “Dream Theory” idea and his brother. He says when he is at Freddy’s he feels closer to the memory. They talk a little about Abby. Vanessa gets a police radio call, and she leaves. But before she leaves throws his sleeping pills into the lake and tells Mike to stay alert while at Freddy’s. We then see Mike try to call Max but it continuously goes to voicemail. We cut to Mike and Abby in the car going to Freddy’s. Mike tells her that she will sleep and not leave the room. When they get there they head to the office and she goes to sleep. We see Mike sleeping and something enters the room and whispers for Abby to follow it. Abby looks at Mike asleep and tells him she’ll be right back. Mike wakes up and sees Abby’s gone. We then hear Abby screaming and Mike runs into the main stage room, seeing all four animatronics circling Abby. He gets Freddy’s attention and Freddy starts to walk towards him aggressively. Mike picks up a chair to defend himself but realizes the sheer size of Freddy and gets instantly terrified. Honestly, at this point in the movie, I felt that I understood that this was not going to be an actual Blumhouse horror movie and probably a more comedic take on horror movies which I’ve seen have been on the rise as recently with things like M3GAN, which was terrible in my opinion. But they did the FNAF movie justice in this field and didn’t make it corny comedy. Abby stops Freddy and says that Mike is her brother. Mike doesn’t believe that the animatronics were actually moving on their own and thinks it is some sort of joke. Abby tells Mike they just want to play and that they like her pictures. Mike tells her they have to go and they leave. Although I felt this was a fairly empty night compared to the things that happened in the previous nights, I would not necessarily say this was bad, just a tad bit strange that the first night interaction between Mike and the animatronics was in a friendly manner.
We then cut to what is probably one of the top 3 worst conversations in the movie.
Hey, Abby, um, we need to talk about last night, okay?
So those, uh, those… machines…
How else could they make the robots move?
Can I have some more soup?
This right here, made me shed a tear, not because it was in any way an emotional scene, but because the combination of plot convenience and bad delivery physically made my organs implode. I don’t know who Blumhouse was trying to fool with this part, I guess they just wanted a way to directly tell people that the missing kids and the animatronics were connected but honestly, there were like 20,000 better ways this could have been executed. We then see the first time Mike brings up Garret to Abby, and asks her if her ghost friends said anything about Garret or the man driving the car. Abby says they don’t and that they only talk about a Yellow Rabbit. Mike asks Abby if tonight she can ask them about it, and Abby agrees. They spend some time at the pizzeria on the 4th night alone until Vanessa arrives. Mike and Vanessa watched Abby run around with the animatronics, which was in itself weird. But then the movie just decides to go full Disney on us and has a montage of the animatronics and everyone making a fort out of the chairs and tables in the pizzeria,
showing stuff like Bonnie literally falling over and putting up a thumbs up. I had finally thought I grasped what this movie was going for, but just like every other scene in this blender of a movie, They just pulled the rug from right under us. I wanted to see if there would be any reason for this to be happening. I mean we're on the 4th night and there had been a total of 0 dangerous things happening to Mike, except that tiny cut on his arm from his dream. They play around and I swear I thought I had inhaled some type of laughing gas when I saw all the animatronics, Abby, Vanessa, and Mike lying down in a circle smiling at each other.
You can honestly see what parts of the movie were put in by Scott, Blumhouse, and the people who were actually passionate about the franchise. And what parts were definitely put in by higher-ups at Universal. We then see Vanessa slip out of the group to go look for a roof for the fort. They go backstage and Vanessa starts to look for star patterned table cloth, Mike looks around the room and finds an old obscure animatronic suit with its chest open. He goes to touch it but Vanessa stops him, saying they are spring locks and could snap and injure him. Mike starts to ask Vanessa why she let Abby wander around alone when she knows dangerous things like this are laid around the pizzeria. Vanessa argues that she isn’t the one who brought Abby here. They leave backstage and return to see all the animatronics playing with Abby on the stage, Abby says she wants to play Bonnie’s guitar and tries to strum it. Vannessa tells Abby to stop but it's too late and she gets electrocuted. After patching her up the night is over and Vannessa brings Mike to the side. Saying that this is all his fault and that if he ever brings Abby back here she will shoot him. This very impactful scene got ruined with the worst delivery and comeback I have ever seen. She says it with such uncertainty I could not tell if this was the movie trying to be comedic or if it was just bad writing. Mike gets in his car and drives Abby home and they go to sleep.
Now this is where the great finale comes into the picture. The movie finally tries to be scary for once and it works fairly well for them. We start with Mike telling Abby to come out of her room before he goes to his shift. Abby comes out and sees Aunt Jan sitting at the entrance. Mike assures Abby this isn't what she thinks it is and that he didn’t give Aunt Jan custody. Abby doesn’t listen and runs away to her room saying she hates him. When Mike gets to Freddy’s he goes back to his old style of things, sleeping and not caring about the animatronics. He gets into his dream and sees that things are different. We see his family playing next to the picnic table and his mother never spills anything. He wonders why things are different and not how they went. And that's when the children appear and tell him that this is what could be if he agrees to the kid's proposal. They say they want Abby. and Mike, disoriented agrees. He then realizes what he said and tries to back out of it saying it was a mistake. The kids disappear and start to each other, one by one, rush at him and attack him. He gets cut all over and wakes up backstage, locked into a chair with a Freddy mask with giant moving saws inside. He tries to get out of the chair while the mask slowly approaches his face. He sees a loose screw on his cuff and starts to loosen it. He gets out and runs to the back exit where Foxy finds him and starts to run at Mike. we then cut to Abby locked in her room with Aunt Jan pleading with her to come to eat. Aunt Jan gives up and sits down in the living room, where we see Golden Freddy, the fifth and final animatronic. Who offscreen kills Aunt Jan. Abby hears the commotion and comes out of her room, she does not see Aunt Jan at first and talks to the ghost child who possesses Golden Freddy. He says to follow him to the pizzeria and she does. They find a taxi driven by no other than the movie's second cameo Coryxkenshin. They enter the cab while he is asleep, they wake him up and force him to drive them to the pizzeria. We then see Mike, wake up while getting patched up by Vanessa. Mike tells her about what happened in the dream and that they need to get to Freddy’s. Vanessa says she can't let him do that and that because “he” already knows that you’re here. Mike asks who is “he” and she shows him a framed photo of the owner of the pizzeria wearing a yellow bunny costume, William Afton. He asks how she knows this and she tells him that he is her dad. When this came up in the movie I was honestly really confused because there were no hidden messages throughout the movie to subtly bring this to light. And because this relationship doesn’t exist anywhere else in the games, books, etc.
So it honestly felt like a way to keep Vanessa in the spotlight when William Afton finally appears. Mike doesn’t listen and says that they need to save Abby and in the end, Vanessa agrees. Vanessa gives Mike a taser to temporarily overcharge the animatronics if they get in his way. And they go off to save Abby. we cut back to Abby and Golden Freddy entering the pizzeria and they lure her backstage. We see Mike make it to the pizzeria and get in through the vents. He enters to see Bonnie and Freddy playing a song on the front stage right in the moment Chica lures Abby backstage. He opens the vent door and tries to sneak by them. Bonnie realizes he is there and tries to get Freddy’s attention to show him he's next to the stage. But before Freddy realizes Mike decides to pour water across the stage and electrocute in with his taser stick. Bonnie and Freddy immediately power down and Mike slips right by them but somehow doesn’t get electrocuted from the floor that we just saw light up with the electricity and power of the 2 animatronics. We cut back to Chica walking Abby through the back halls into the ominous back room, where the animatronics laid out the springlock suit from before. Abby gets a bad feeling about it and realizes that Chica is going to put her in there. She starts to scream before Mike appears and shocks Chica with his taser. Abby runs to him and they start to head back to the main stage room but Chica’s cupcake appears and starts to gnaw on Mikes's leg. To be honest, here, Cupcake did more killing and horror-like actions than any other character, which is honestly sad because the creative designs of the animatronics could have made for some interesting murder scenes like the Max scene from earlier in the movie. Mike eventually gets the cupcake off but loses sight of Abby. We see Abby, in the main stage room. Hiding for her life against Foxy. She hides behind some arcade cabinets while Foxy approaches. This scene has some more fearful additions to it than most. And I would have congratulated the movie for it. If it wasn't for the fact the whole scene was ripped straight from the books. In the first original book “the silver eyes” this exact scene happens. And when I looked back at the graphic novel version, every shot was stolen from the panels. I don't think it was a bad thing necessarily that they stole this. I'm just upset that one of the scarier parts of the movie, although still mediocre, wasn't even an original scene. Abby sneaks away from Foxy and goes into the ball pit hiding underneath.
Foxy looks around the ball pit and we see Abby terrified watching Foxy search for her. And right when he spots her, Vanessa appears. And tases Foxy before he gets to Abby. After Vanessa helps Abby, we see Mike finally enter the Main Stage room looking at Abby and Vanessa across the room. But then, we hear loud footsteps behind Mike, and the camera pans towards the unlit entrance where William Afton played by Mathew Lillard, appears in a springlock suit. He kicks and chucks Mike across the floor into a table, and continues to mercilessly beat him while finally letting Mike and the rest of the group know that it was him who kidnapped and killed Garret. Vanessa tries to threaten William with a gun to make him stop, but he thinks she is bluffing. He gets shot through the suit but it doesn’t seem to have much effect because we then see him grab and stab Vanessa, his daughter. I was honestly shocked at this moment because the way that William spoke to Vanessa made me think his being soft on her would cause his defeat. But boy was I wrong right off the bat he stabs her. This is also when we find out that the animatronics only act this way towards the intruders because William has actually tampered with their minds and are under his control. This is where I feel a lot of people finally understood a big critique the fanbase had since the trailers where the animatronics had glowing red eyes. But now it just made them ( and me ) look plain stupid because they took inspiration from the books and gave them red eyes when they were under control. When Mike finds out they are under control his reaction is to weirdly look at the drawing wall where there, plastered in the middle was a picture of the yellow rabbit and the 5 murdered kids happy and smiling. Somehow Mike interprets the drawings as the force of mind control and tells Abby to draw a picture to snap them out of it. She draws a picture of them getting murdered and when they put it on the wall on top of the other drawing, this for some reason made the animatronics realize who their enemy was. This movie was just full of random plot conveniences and it honestly hurt because there was so much they could have done instead that would have diehard fans such as myself happy but also just be much more entertaining for first-time viewers. When the animatronics start to corner William, Mathew Lillard goes off on this honestly amazing maniacal rant on how they are nothing without him and he made them and so forth. This doesn't stop Chica from launching Cupcake who has honestly become my favorite character just from his sheer violent behavior, right at his suit and ripping off a chunk of it. That pressure activates the spring locks on William's suit as he starts to get punctured with metal rods through his organs and body. He lets out one last line before fully accepting his fate and putting on the mask; “I always come back” We see the pizzeria start to collapse with the animatronics dragging William away and Mike carrying Abby and Vanessa out of the building. After this we see the movie conclude with Mike and Abby visiting an unconscious Vanessa in the hospital and William Afton still in agony in the back room of the pizzeria as the Ghost Boy who possessed Golden Freddy watches joyfully.
In total, I feel like this movie wasn’t as bad as I originally anticipated. Throughout writing this I went back and rewatched it 4 more times to try and see if I could grasp anything that maybe would give the movie some credit. And although I did find myself enjoying the movie more as I rewatched it. It felt like it was just laughing at the plotline. The Movie definitely did things right, however, such as the beautiful cast and set design. And I understand that with making a movie on such a staple piece of internet history as FNAF, it's hard to really do it justice. But I feel that from what I have read about the production and such this really just came down to big names at the companies forcing the producers to make changes that really took the passion out of the movie. I feel even though FNAF has such an important place in my heart I wouldn’t have been as sad to see it get ruined by Hollywood if this weren't the last project we will ever see the creator of FNAF, Scott Cawthon, have a part in. since any new games or merchandise is from other companies and he is retiring, this really was Scott’s final goodbye to the franchise. And it is just sad to see something so important get ruined.